Since then I have read some of his other stories, not least the recently-published sequel to Haven. It followed on the story from the cliffhanger ending to the first one, and while enjoyable I found it perhaps just a little long in places.
However, much more enjoyable, and indeed the best thing by him that I have read so far, was a magnificent space adventure called The Legend of Ivan. In the future, when humanity has scattered throughout the galaxy, there exist human-robot hybrids called archivists, creatures of immense mental power who store, and unyieldingly thirst for, knowledge – to the extent that they fight to the death on the rare occasions they meet each other.
The Legend of Ivan tells the story of one archivist, Sid, who is commissioned to get to the bottom of a series of myths and imperceptible half-truths about a man called Ivan, whose reputation for extraordinary feats of violence is one of the era’s abiding mysteries.
Taking us through a variety of worlds, Sid’s explorations lead to him encountering a weird and wonderful collection of people and situations, with wonderfully evocative portrayals of worlds and lives that represent the very worst of both the heart and periphery of human existence, all the while contemplating his own existence and role as a cyborg.
Painting a picture of a wild universe, with good uses of humour, action and drama, The Legend of Ivan evoked echoes of Firefly and Blade Runner; an imagining of a universe that was none too positive but certainly all the gripping for it. I hope Justin Kemppainen returns to that universe again: there seemed to be a lot going on that received only the most tantalising touches.
Anyway, if you’re interested in the story, he’s just announced that it will be free on the Kindle on both sides of the pond for a few days, so it’s a risk-free punt.